Event Report: FUDAN10KU LIVE 10th Anniversary Special ~Summer! Water! Live Band! A Music Festival Under the Blue Sky’s Light in Osaka~ 7.21.18
Having entered their 10th year of activities in September of 2017, danso (girls dressed as boys) idol group Fudanjuku have missed no chance celebrate the occasion, starting the year off with an outdoor concert at Hibiya’s Yaon concert hall followed by a three-part countrywide tour. This third leg of their concert series included something special– a big outdoor concert supported by a live band and including… water?? With only the concert title to go off of, I and others had a lot of questions leading up to the actual performance, but with Fudanjuku as the headliners, we knew we were in for a good time.
On a broiling hot summer day a half hour north of Osaka, we trekked to the enormous Hattori Ryokuchi park, passing massive modern art fountains and huge patches of green until we reached the entrance to the open air concert hall.
Doors to the venue opened at noon even though the live itself was scheduled for 4pm. We arrived around 2pm in an effort to not fully liquify due to heat by the time the concert started. We were told that no re-entry was allowed and offered salty candy, a staple during Japanese summers, on the way in. The concert hall was surrounded by concrete walls on all sides which trapped heat and somehow made it even hotter within the venue than it was outside of it. As fans milled around chatting with each other, a massive screen hanging above the stage played Fudanjuku concert DVDs, first of their 2017 Nakano Sun Plaza concert and later of the 10th anniversary concert in Hibiya Yaon.
At the top of the seating area was a stretch of grass that included the goods table, a place to reserve CDs, a booth for participating in the chuusenkai (lottery raffle, using tickets you received from goods and CD purchases) and a tent spraying mist onto the several people who were camping out around it. On the opposite side of the venue from the entrance was a food truck serving various Fudanjuku-themed items like shaved ice in member colors and yakisoba named after one of their singles. We grabbed some snacks and settled in to wait.
Shortly after 3pm, The Hoopers took the stage as the opening act. Originally established as Fudanjuku’s “little brother” group, The Hoopers made their major debut on a different label than their predecessors and the two have only managed to collaborate a handful of times, so it was wonderful to be able to see them at the same event again! The members were wearing airy white blouses and started off their set with energetic songs “Go! Go! Dance ga Tomaranai” and “New World.” Next up was “Romeo,” performed by The Hoopers’ subunit, Four Roses. All members came back on stage to perform their newest single, “Jewel no Kodou ga Kikoeru ka?” and Fudanjuku fans were happy to join in with the song’s furicopy (copying the members’ arm movements.) The Hoopers thanked the audience for welcoming them so warmly, and generously plugged their concert the following day, also taking place in Osaka. (I’m pleased to report that several Fudanjuku fans bought day-of tickets and attended!)
There was a bit of a break for everyone to rehydrate, and then it was time for the main act. One by one, members of the live band took the stage… all of them, women in danso. It suited all of them so well I wouldn’t have been shocked if you told me that they always perform like that. As the opening riffs of the first song started, Fudanjuku took the stage dressed in red and white striped outfits like Osaka’s famous clown mascot, Kuidaore Taro. Fudanjuku are always wonderfully goofy and silly so these outfits were super cute, even if maybe not the most flattering.
The first few songs started off with a burst of energy, with “Taiyou Mitai na Kimi ga Suki” and Fudanjuku’s quintessential summer song “Muteki Natsu Yasumi.” We didn’t have to wait long to find out what the “water” aspect of the live would be, as four massive cannons attached to the stage began periodically blasting in time with the music, firing arcs of water high above the audience.
From where I was sitting, the sun passing through the mist in the air painted an incredible rainbow over the members from one end of the stage to the other. At the group’s outdoor concerts in Hibiya’s Yaon in both 2012 and 2017, fans made an enormous rainbow in the audience for the members, so getting to see a completely real rainbow over the group as they performed their first outdoor concert in Osaka made me super emotional! It really felt like a scene out of a movie. Former Fudanjuku member Kyan Chiaki (FKA Bukiya Momotaro) managed to snap some photos from where she was seated:
In addition to blasts of water from four cannons attached to the stage, members took turns running two at a time into the audience and spraying everyone with big water guns several times. Next up was towel-swinging seasonal song “Cocktail on the Beach” followed by upbeat “Ore no Sora,” “Kazamidori” and “This Is Love.”
There was a quick MC where one of the group’s newest members, Kuryu Masaki, was suspiciously absent. The others left the stage to prepare for the next song, and Masaki reappeared first in a flattering and handsome white and black outfit– holding an electric violin. He lifted it to his chin and began playing the intro to “Moshimo Kore ga Koi Nara,” much to the audience’s delight. The other members joined him in the same cool outfits for the rest of the song, and continued into “Danso Revolution,” “Welcome to my Familia” and “Shunkan Tourai Future.”
After every few songs, the members would pause to rehydrate and encourage everyone to do the same, which prompted Fujimori Leo to initiate a venue-wide kanpai (cheers) among everyone’s water bottles, sports drinks, and the occasional alcohol. The setlist had a lot of similarities to what they’ve been using at other stops on their current tour, but between the water effects, members periodically running into the audience, and really creative visuals tailored specifically to each song being projected on the screen above the stage, it was a totally unique and immersive concert.
The guitarist switched out her electric for an acoustic for some relaxing versions of down-tempo “Hoshikuzu no Namida” and “Bokura no Arukumichi.” Around this time was another costume change, this time into cute and fun baseball uniform-style shirts in member colors with their names on the back. Energy ramped up again for “Daikoukai Boy,” “Eye of the Typhoon,” “Galileo ~Procyon wo Koete~,” and “Onaji Jidai ni Umareta Wakamonotachi.” The group’s most recent single, “Kimi Iroiro Utsuri,” suited the live band and summer energy especially well.
Water effects had also been in full effect during these few songs but I thought we’d already received the worst of it, until Seto Kouki was given control a high-powered water hose during the last song, “Arata naru Makuake no tame no Makuake ni yoru Kyoushikyoku ~Kimi ga Ireba Oretachi mo Egao Mugendai~.” As Fudanjuku fans may know, Kouki loves the ink-spraying Nintendo game series, Splatoon. Kouki really, really loves Splatoon. Kouki did not hold back as he used his acquired Splatoon skills and accuracy to thoroughly, completely drench several hundred audience members. Something about being soaked to the core by a member of one’s favorite group manning a firehouse makes it difficult to contain one’s laughter, and I found myself in hysterics as members did a last lap of the audience, taking GoPro selfies with soggy fans all the while.
I managed to find a dry corner of t-shirt to dry my glasses on before the encore, which included a cover of the permanent-hiatus female idol version of Fudanjuku, Nakano Fujoshi Sisters’ “tomorrow” and upbeat but bittersweet “Jaa, ne.” The members left the stage but were soon called back on for a double encore, inviting The Hoopers members to join them for another performance of the groups’ collaboration song made for their tour together last summer, “Kiratto Love.” After everyone left the stage, a final announcement on screen revealed that it wouldn’t be long before Fudanjuku’s next outdoor concert– the final performance in the group’s 10th anniversary tours will be held at Hibiya Yaon on September 24th, with the setlist decided by fans!
Fans began streaming out of the venue, and in my sweaty, soggy state I felt immense relief I’d be able to head back to my hotel room and shower instead of boarding a bullet train as-is to head back to Tokyo. I’ve seen more Fudanjuku concerts than I can count at this point, but this one was easily in the top 5. It was absolutely one of their most creative performances, and really next-level fun for both fans and members alike. I’ve laughed through a lot of Fudanjuku concerts but never because I was being pelted with rocket-powered water. I’m looking forward to the DVD, but I sure have my fingers crossed that me looking like a drowned rat and beaming like an idiot doesn’t show up in the recording.